Dexamethasone and perioperative blood glucose in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty: A retrospective study

Michael Nurok, Jennifer Cheng, Giulio R. Romeo, Stephanie M. Vecino, Kara G. Fields, Jacques T. YaDeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Study objective Perioperative dexamethasone is commonly used to prevent nausea. It can also increase blood glucose levels, and recent concern about its blood glucose-elevating effect in humans has been raised. This study aimed to demonstrate relationships between dexamethasone administration and elevated perioperative blood glucose in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty. Design Retrospective study. Setting Academic, orthopedic hospital. Patients A total of 625 patients (18–99 years) who underwent total hip or total knee arthroplasty with an ASA ≤ 3 were included in the study. Interventions Patients who received dexamethasone perioperatively were compared to those who did not receive dexamethasone. Measurements The primary outcome, which was any postoperative glucose > 200 mg/dl, was compared between groups using multiple logistic regression. Demographic information, intraoperative information, incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting, white blood cell count, medication use, and length of stay were also collected. Main results Perioperative dexamethasone (median [1st quartile, 3rd quartile] dose = 4 [4, 8] mg) was administered to 76% of patients. Only 5.6% (95% CI: 3.8–7.5) of patients had postoperative glucose levels > 200 mg/dl. After covariate adjustment, there was no evidence of a difference in odds of experiencing postoperative glucose levels > 200 mg/dl (odds ratio [95% CI]: 0.76 [0.28–2.07]; P = 0.594) and maximum glucose levels (P = 0.518) between groups. Dexamethasone-treated patients had greater changes in white blood cell count between baseline and postoperative days 0–1. There was no evidence of a difference in wound healing and length of stay between groups. Conclusions There was no evidence of an association between perioperative dexamethasone administration and the odds of having postoperative glucose levels > 200 mg/dl or higher maximum glucose levels. However, these findings may not be generalizable to patients having different baseline characteristics or procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Arthroplasty, replacement, hip
  • Arthroplasty, replacement, knee
  • Blood glucose
  • Dexamethasone
  • Diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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